Other Types of Intellectual Property

Copyright – protection for creative work

There is often an overlap between copyright and trade marks, in that both types of intellectual property may provide protection for things which can be recorded in one form or another.

Copyright protects creative output. Protection is afforded to the expression of an idea rather than the idea itself – so, for example, it would protect the text in your leaflets but not the ideas communicated in it.

Copyright can exist in your business cards that you hand out to every customer; the leaflets, flyers, posters, presentations, radio broadcasts and television advertisements through which you advertise your business; your order forms, brochures, manuals, databases and contact lists that are so vital to the running of your business; the software that you can’t manage without, and even the layout of your website and its content (including the photographs and print that attract potential clients).

Whilst copyright is a territorial right, most countries have signed up to International Treaties which may allow you to protect your copyrighted works abroad.

What are the benefits of copyright protection?

Copyright protection allows the owner the exclusive right to exploit the work, including:

  • Copy the work,
  • Issue it to the public,
  • Rent or lent it to the public, or
  • Make adaptations of the work.

This also means that no one else can do any of the above with a copyrighted work without the owner’s consent.

Who owns the copyright in the work?

Copyright protection is a right that is usually afforded to the author of the work. However, if something is created in the course of employment, the employer is usually the owner, and with commissioned works the owner of the copyright is usually the creator unless you agree otherwise.

How long does copyright protection last?

Copyright arises automatically and is commonly said to arise “before the ink is dry upon the paper”. In the UK, there is no requirement to register your copyrighted works.

Copyright protection for most copyright material lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator.

Next – Patents.